Why is the Australian Government phasing out inefficient incandescent light bulbs?
Lighting represents around 12 per cent of electricity usage from households, and around 25 per cent of the electricity used by the commercial sector. The Australian Government recognises that this is an area where energy savings can be easily made by replacing inefficient incandescent lights with more cost-effective and energy efficient alternatives.
These energy efficient alternatives include compact fluorescent lamps which use only 20 per cent of the electricity of traditional incandescent light bulbs to produce the same amount of light. Using less energy means reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower electricity bills – benefiting both the environment and individuals.
The Australian Government has implemented the phase-out by introducing minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for lighting products. MEPS are the minimum efficiency standards that products must meet in order to be sold in the Australian market. MEPS are used for various product ranges, including refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and other household appliances. More information about MEPS is available on the Energy Rating website.
More efficient types of incandescent bulbs called halogens will continue to be available, but the least efficient of this group will be phased out. Halogen bulbs are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, but are significantly less efficient than compact fluorescent lamps. More information is available about the phase-out, as it applies to specific lighting products on the Energy Rating website.
The Australian Government is targeting any light bulbs that have an efficiency level of less than 15 lumens per watt (lm/w). Lumens (lm) are a measure of light output and watts (w) are a measure of energy input.
The traditional pear-shaped incandescent bulbs (General Lighting Service lamps) are the least efficient - these bulbs waste 90 per cent of the energy they use, mainly as heat. They were phased out first, with an import restriction that applied from 1 February 2009, followed by a sales restriction from November 2009. See the phase-out timetable for more details.
More efficient types of incandescent bulbs known as halogens will continue to be available, but the least efficient of this group will be phased out over time. Mains voltage (240 Volt), and low voltage bulbs (12 Volt – typically used in down lighting), are the common types of halogens. NOTE: low voltage does not mean low energy use.
Sale of existing light bulbs
In all states and territories the following conditions apply:
- Incandescent light bulbs subject to Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) can be sold if the seller can prove that they were imported into the State or Territory they are being sold in prior to the date the MEPS legislation on incandescent lighting products was introduced. In the case of tungsten filament General Lighting Service light bulbs the seller would have to prove they were imported before 1 February 2009.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps or halogen lamps that require MEPS registration but are not registered can be sold if the seller can prove that they were imported into the State or Territory they are being sold in before the date the legislation was introduced.
For further information please contact the national regulator.
Most street and public lights do not use incandescent technology, so the phase-out will not affect them.
Street and road lighting in Australia is very efficient compared to other countries, however, the Government is working with industry and the relevant Australian Standards Committee to reduce the amount of energy used by street lights.